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John Fowles
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fate
2017-05-18 15:24:39 UTC
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Hello,

Could you help me to understand this sentence from John Fowles' "The Magus"?


"I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope- an impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all."

Thanks,
Horace LaBadie
2017-05-18 15:31:19 UTC
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Post by fate
Hello,
Could you help me to understand this sentence from John Fowles' "The Magus"?
"I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope- an
impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort
of all."
Thanks,
What do you not understand? The word "green?" The paradox?
fate
2017-05-18 15:38:07 UTC
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I couldn't understand " a failure to cope- an impotence, in short" part. What does he mean here?
Cheryl
2017-05-18 15:45:51 UTC
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Post by fate
I couldn't understand " a failure to cope- an impotence, in short" part. What does he mean here?
A "failure to cope" and an "impotence" mean the same thing - they are
two ways of expressing the idea of an inability to act, or at least, an
inability to act successfully. The author says that cynicism hides an
inability to take successful action.
--
Cheryl
Harrison Hill
2017-05-18 15:52:47 UTC
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Post by fate
I couldn't understand " a failure to cope- an impotence, in short" part. What does he mean here?
"Impotence" in its sense of "weakness, powerlessness".
Horace LaBadie
2017-05-18 17:16:54 UTC
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Post by fate
I couldn't understand " a failure to cope- an impotence, in short" part. What
does he mean here?
"I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope- an
impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest
effort of all."

If he were older and more experienced, he would have understood that
people become cynical about life because they have been unable to
achieve something, to cause a change in circumstances or to cope with
life, have been powerless, impotent.
Harrison Hill
2017-05-18 15:41:50 UTC
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Post by fate
Hello,
Could you help me to understand this sentence from John Fowles' "The Magus"?
"I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope- an impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all."
Thanks,
Not easy :)

"green" means "immature, naïve" from "green shoots" meaning
"young". We have the phrase "wet behind the ears" to describe
the same thing.

"I was too immature to notice that being hard-edged and sarcastic
is a sign of 'not being able to cope', rather than the 'better
than everyone else', attitude I was trying to convey.

"It is elaborate and difficult to disguise your weaknesses. Much
easier and better to overcome them; or - failing that - admit
them."
CDB
2017-05-18 16:21:27 UTC
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Post by fate
Could you help me to understand this sentence from John Fowles' "The Magus"?
"I was too green(1) to know that all cynicism masks a failure to
cope (2)(3) - an impotence(4), in short; and that to despise all
effort is the greatest effort of all(5)."
Any part in particular?

(1) "Too green" is "too inexperienced", with an implication that the
inexperience may be that of youth.

(2) People become cynical if they can't get what they
try for. The fox in the fable who couldn't reach the grapes concluded
that they were sour anyway.

(3) "To cope" is to deal with life, with reasonable success.

($) "Impotence" is the inability to do something, or (sometimes)
anything. It stings a bit more because it's sometimes used for
a man's failure to achieve an erection.

(5) It's a lot harder to stop trying and to pretend that you didn't
really want something than it is to keep trying to get it. I'm not sure
I agree, but it's certainly less useful.

Here's a Canadian song about that:

Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken
And life about to end.
No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/stan+rogers/mary+ellen+carter_20264253.html


David Kleinecke
2017-05-18 17:39:28 UTC
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Post by CDB
Post by fate
Could you help me to understand this sentence from John Fowles' "The Magus"?
"I was too green(1) to know that all cynicism masks a failure to
cope (2)(3) - an impotence(4), in short; and that to despise all
effort is the greatest effort of all(5)."
Any part in particular?
(1) "Too green" is "too inexperienced", with an implication that the
inexperience may be that of youth.
(2) People become cynical if they can't get what they
try for. The fox in the fable who couldn't reach the grapes concluded
that they were sour anyway.
(3) "To cope" is to deal with life, with reasonable success.
($) "Impotence" is the inability to do something, or (sometimes)
anything. It stings a bit more because it's sometimes used for
a man's failure to achieve an erection.
(5) It's a lot harder to stop trying and to pretend that you didn't
really want something than it is to keep trying to get it. I'm not sure
I agree, but it's certainly less useful.
Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken
And life about to end.
No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/stan+rogers/mary+ellen+carter_20264253.html
http://youtu.be/FrB17-cwsKA
Love it. Thank You.
CDB
2017-05-19 14:32:48 UTC
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[exegesis]
Post by David Kleinecke
Post by CDB
(5) It's a lot harder to stop trying and to pretend that you
didn't really want something than it is to keep trying to get it.
I'm not sure I agree, but it's certainly less useful.
Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken And life
about to end. No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a
friend, Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/stan+rogers/mary+ellen+carter_20264253.html
http://youtu.be/FrB17-cwsKA
Post by David Kleinecke
Love it. Thank You.
My favourite from the album is "The Flowers of Bermuda", because I'm a
sentimental fool but mostly because it has an unusual rhythm: 5/11, I
think I saw.


Ross
2017-05-19 22:06:36 UTC
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Post by CDB
[exegesis]
Post by David Kleinecke
Post by CDB
(5) It's a lot harder to stop trying and to pretend that you
didn't really want something than it is to keep trying to get it.
I'm not sure I agree, but it's certainly less useful.
Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken And life
about to end. No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a
friend, Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/stan+rogers/mary+ellen+carter_20264253.html
http://youtu.be/FrB17-cwsKA
Post by David Kleinecke
Love it. Thank You.
My favourite from the album is "The Flowers of Bermuda", because I'm a
sentimental fool but mostly because it has an unusual rhythm: 5/11, I
think I saw.
http://youtu.be/P5RKhjGCmZw
Nice. Stan Rogers is great. But I don't think 5/11 is a possible
time signature. Sounds like he's alternating 5- and 6-beat lines,
which gives you a total of 11.
CDB
2017-05-20 01:45:31 UTC
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Post by CDB
[exegesis]
Post by David Kleinecke
Post by CDB
(5) It's a lot harder to stop trying and to pretend that you
didn't really want something than it is to keep trying to get
it. I'm not sure I agree, but it's certainly less useful.
Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken And
life about to end. No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a
love, a friend, Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/stan+rogers/mary+ellen+carter_20264253.html
http://youtu.be/FrB17-cwsKA
Post by CDB
Post by David Kleinecke
Love it. Thank You.
My favourite from the album is "The Flowers of Bermuda", because
5/11, I think I saw.
http://youtu.be/P5RKhjGCmZw
Nice. Stan Rogers is great. But I don't think 5/11 is a possible time
signature. Sounds like he's alternating 5- and 6-beat lines, which
gives you a total of 11.
I take no sides. I'm pretty sure I read or heard "5/11", but your
explanation sounds reasonable.

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